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India’s Chinese app ban seen jolting $1 billion expansion of ByteDance

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By Aditya Kalra and Pei Li

NEW DELHI/HONG KONG (Reuters) – An Indian ban on dozens of Chinese apps following a border clash between the two nations has possibly derailed a $1 billion India expansion plan of China’s ByteDance, while also sparking an uproar from users of its popular TikTok video app.

TikTok was removed from Google and Apple app stores in India after New Delhi said on Monday night it was among the 59 apps which it believed posed a “threat to sovereignty and integrity”.

The government order didn’t name China, or cite the border clashes. App analytics firm Sensor Tower said all the 59 apps named were of Chinese origin, including Tencent’s WeChat and Alibaba’s UC Browser.

“If this is not rolled back, these companies would be constrained to cut back their operations in India, potentially resulting in a loss of employment,” said a lawyer who advises a Chinese company whose app has been banned in India.

China’s foreign ministry said it was “strongly concerned” about India’s decision, adding that India had a “responsibility to uphold the legitimate legal rights of investors including the Chinese companies.”

The biggest casualty of the move appears to be ByteDance, which has since last year hired several senior executives and laid out plans to invest $1 billion in India. India is TikTok’s top growth market and accounts for 30% of its 2 billion downloads worldwide.

TikTok said in a statement the Indian government had invited the company to respond to the ban and submit clarifications, adding that it complies with all data security and privacy requirements.

It did not comment on the fate of its expansion plan.

‘HOW WILL I LIVE NOW’

Following the ban order, many TikTok users posted videos expressing their displeasure with the ban.

One user @omkarsharma988 posted a video in which he throws utensils to the ground, hits a chair and weeps, with a Hindi song playing “You’ve left me, how will I live now?” The video had been liked 218,000 times, as the app still functions on phones on which it is already downloaded.

When TikTok was banned briefly last year after a state court said the app encouraged pornography, the company told the Supreme Court the ban cost it roughly $15 million a month.

Several Indian lawyers said chances of a success through a legal challenge this time were slim given the government had invoked national security concerns, meaning the Chinese companies can only hope to lobby India to reverse the decision.

“From a legal perspective it (the ban) is sound because grounds like national security are difficult to challenge,” said Santosh Pai of Link Legal, which advises Chinese companies.

The ban has also left Tencent disappointed, which has apps on the market and is also a major investor in Indian startups, two sources aware of the company’s concerns told Reuters. New Delhi in April mandated screening of incoming investments from countries like China, hitting the likes of Tencent.

While its WeChat messaging app is not that popular in India, the company fears the government could impose a ban later on the mobile version of its blockbuster game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, said one of the sources. Tencent declined to comment.

Two games of China-based firms, “Mobile Legends” and “Clash of Kings”, were among those banned on Monday.

Sensor Tower said the 59 banned apps recorded roughly 4.9 billion downloads in India since January 2014.

(Reporting by Aditya Kalra and Pei Li; Additional reporting by Cate Cadell in Beijing and other China bureaus; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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Google says Fitbit deal is ‘about devices, not data’ after committing to EU pledge – 9to5Google

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Google today offered a pledge that it would not use Fitbit data for advertising if its acquisition went through. This reportedly addresses a big European demand before approving the Google-Fitbit deal.

In a statement to Reuters, Google said it would “work with the European Commission on an approach that safeguards consumers’ expectations that Fitbit device data won’t be used for advertising.”

A binding pledge emerged last week as a way for Google to avoid an extended, four-month long investigation by European antitrust regulators. When the deal was first announced in November, Google already said “Fitbit health and wellness data will not be used for Google ads.” Furthermore, existing users will be given the option to “review, move, or delete their data.”

Today was the deadline for such a commitment, with the EU expected to make a decision as soon as next week on its preliminary review of the $2.1 billion acquisition that would see Fitbit join Google’s hardware division. Europe has surveyed competitors about whether the purchase would harm the marketplace, and how Fitbit could benefit Google’s up-and-coming Health division.

Google also said today that the Fitbit “deal is about devices, not data.” A literal reading reveals the company’s desire to make and have a portfolio of smart watches and fitness trackers. It currently does not have a significant presence in the consumer health space, or a first-party wearables brand that people are familiar with.

After the deal closes, Google could move forward with adding Assistant to the Fitbit Versa 2. We already spotted work on that integration last month, and it would be a way to quickly reflect the new ownership. It also provides a new surface for the smart assistant on many existing devices.

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OnePlus Nord to come in dark grey and include ultrawide selfie cam – MobileSyrup

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OnePlus has shared that the hotly anticipated OnePlus Nord is going to have a 105-degree front camera to make taking group selfies a breeze.

Alongside that news, the OnePlus Twitter account shared a picture of the handset in a dark grey colour scheme. The image has a ‘#01’ on it, and the tweet says people can enter for a chance to win one of the first 10 OnePlus Nords to be released.

It’s unclear if regular consumers will have the option to buy this colour or if it’s exclusive to the first 10.  Since the phone isn’t coming to Canada, it’s highly unlikely that Canadians will be able to get their hands on this stealthy version of the phone.

It’s also exciting to see OnePlus pack a wide-angle camera into the front of the display alongside a regular selfie shooter. Many phones such as the Pixel 4 and the iPhone 11 have been using wide-angle lenses to help people up their selfie game, so it’s nice to see OnePlus follow suit.

Leaks have been speculating that one of the selfie cameras will be 8-megapixels, while the other will be 32-megapixels. If I had to guess, the 8-megapixel lens will be the ultra-wide, and the other camera will be the primary lens used for video chatting and taking pictures, but there’s no concrete evidence yet.

OnePlus seems to be releasing small bits of information via the Nord Instagram account, so stay tuned to that channel until July 21st to get all the new information the company is sharing.

Source: OnePlus

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Apple's iPhone 12 won't be available until October: analyst – MobileSyrup

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In a new research note, analysts from Wedbush say that Apple will go ahead with a September launch event for the iPhone 12 series, but that the smartphone likely won’t be available to purchase until October.

Several Apple leakers and analysts have predicted that the 2020 iPhone’s release will be delayed by at least a few weeks due to supply chain complications brought on by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Further, Wedbush purposes a few scenarios. First, Apple could drop all 2020 iPhone models at the same time but with very limited availability and a lengthy delivery delay.

Second, it says Apple could adopt a strategy similar to the iPhone X and XR. In the case of the iPhone X, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus launched first, followed by the X a few weeks later. The company did the same thing with the release of the iPhone XR following the initial release of the iPhone XS.

The firm goes on to state the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max will be available in minimal quantities following its September reveal.

Lastly, there’s a possibility Apple could delay the entire keynote until October so that there is more availability of all iPhone 12 models.

Previous rumours indicate Apple has plans to launch several 2020 iPhones, including 5.4-inch and 5.1-inch iPhone 12 models and a Pro version available in 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch sizes.

Other reported features include a more squared-off design similar to recent iPad Pro models, a new faster 5nm A-series processor and 5G connectivity.

Source: 9to5Mac

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